Complete Smoked Ribs Recipe For The Most Enjoyable BBQ Party

At first glance, smoked ribs recipe can be quite complicated and a challenge to any new home cook. The good news is that with a bit of effort, you can recreate this delicious recipe by yourself! But the question is, how to smoke ribs at home?

smoked ribs recipe featured

In this article, we will introduce you to seven useful steps as well as the 3-2-1 method. As the name suggests, this rib method consists of three definite steps, each of which takes 3, 2, and 1 hour respectively. We will review it in detail to help you make tasty pork ribs with amazing flavor.

From our experience, we also find out that there are some common mistakes that novices frequently make. Considering that, we prepared this helpful pork ribs recipe, which might be the best guidance you need.

Table of Contents

    Now, let’s get started so you can enjoy your delectable feast!

    How To Smoke Ribs At Home?

    In this section, you will learn our superb restaurant-quality smoked ribs recipe by seven useful steps.

    Step 1: Choose Quality Meat

    four pork meat
    Choose pork ribs

    You should not choose tough meat as it will be very difficult to smoke it. Instead, we recommend three types of ribs as follows:

    • Baby back ribs: It is one of the most popular rib cuts. As the name suggests, rack baby meat derives from the muscle on the back of the pig. Most people love it because it is meaty, lean, tender, and of course, high-quality.
    • Spare ribs: As the name suggests, it is the “spare” meat that remains at the pig’s belly, since people often use the belly section for bacon. Although spare ribs are not as meaty as baby back ribs, they take less cooking time on the smoker.
    • St. Louis Style ribs: Basically, it derives from the same cut as spare ribs. The only difference is that St. Louis style ribs have a unique rectangular shape, making them easy to cook evenly.

    It also cooks more quickly since the skirt and tip are removed. Also, St. Louis Style ribs have the least amount of meat, so it is a great alternative for those on a diet.

    By learning about the differences between these ribs, you can pick the most suitable one according to your needs and preferences.

    Step 2: Pick The Suitable Type Of Wood Chips

    light fruitwood chips
    Choose light fruitwood chips for the best results

    Wood chips can greatly affect the quality of your food. There are hundreds of them, but we recommend lighter wood chips in this case. Why, you ask? Heavy smoke can easily overpower the slightly sweet taste of pork, which can ruin the flavor that you are looking for.

    Instead, a lighter fruitwood is the perfect choice for bone-tender ribs. You can try one of these wood chips:

    • Cherry
    • Hickory
    • Pecan
    • Oak
    • Grapevine
    • Mesquite

    Step 3: Remove The Membrane

     Remove the pork skin
    Remove the pork skin

    This step is especially important as it will determine whether you will get bone-tender ribs or not. Fortunately, it is not difficult at all to remove the membrane. 

    In case you do not know where the membrane is, here are some tips. Look for the whitish, silvery skin on the backside rack of ribs – that is what you need to remove.

    Firstly, slide the knife under the silvery membrane, then pull up on the skin. You can start in any direction along the rack of ribs.

    Next, lift and loosen the skin in the process. Do it gently and patiently so that you won’t hurt yourself. Once you feel it is loose enough, you can grab the membrane with your hands and simply pull it.

    If the silver skin suddenly breaks along the way, don’t worry – just use the knife and start over at any section of the ribs.

    You will need a small, rounded knife for this task. A sharp knife is not advisable since it may cut off the membrane along the way, making it even more challenging to remove.

    You may be wondering why it is necessary to remove the silver skin. The answer is simple: Without the membrane, the meat will cook faster and more evenly. The ultimate result is that you get juicy, tasty, tender bone ribs.

    Step 4: Do The Seasoning

    Season the pork ribs
    Season the pork ribs

    Rib rubs are indispensable if you are going for a delicious ribs recipe. Generously rubbing the ribs with a butter bath or a blend of spices can bring out the pork’s lightly sweet flavor.

    Cover the ribs with yellow mustard and make sure to spread it evenly. Next, rub it with a mixture of spices – or the dry rubs. Then, wrap ribs in tin foil and let them chill in the fridge.

    Usually, two hours is enough for the spices to penetrate through. But if you want tasty, finger-smacking food, we suggest leaving the pork ribs overnight.

    In case you don’t know any dry rub recipes, here are some recommendations. Spices include salt, brown sugar, and pepper flake. You can also add some powder, such as onion, garlic, and chili powder. A little amount of Hungarian paprika or ground cumin is also advisable.

    Step 5: Smoke The Ribs

    Smoke the ribs
    Smoke the ribs

    From here, we will apply the 3-2-1 ribs method mentioned above.

    First of all, preheat your smoker for a few minutes before smoking (preferably 225F degrees).

    You already know what to do next – place the ribs bone side down and leave them on for 3 hours of smoking.

    While you are at it, don’t forget to spritz ribs on the smoker with apple juice once every 30 minutes. By doing this, the food will be amazingly tender when finished.

    Here are some extra tips: You can coat the ribs in foil with some apple cider or butter bath while smoking to get better results.

    Step 6: Wrap In Foil

    Wrap ribs in sheets of foil
    Wrap ribs in sheets of foil

    This stage is when the ribs become bone tender.

    Remove the ribs from the smoker. Use a piece of aluminum foil or tin foil if you prefer. You can add a little more beer or apple juice mixture using a spray bottle in this step. Neatly seal the foil to ensure that the moisture doesn’t leak out, and the steaming process takes place perfectly.

    Next, place the ribs on the smoker again for 2 additional hours. Keep in  mind that the internal temperature should be the same as the previous step – 225F degrees. Or, if you prefer, an oven can be a useful alternative in this case (with the same degrees).

    Step 7: Sauce And Serve

    Coat ribs with barbecue sauce
    Coat ribs with barbecue sauce

    Congrats – you’ve come quite a long way! Just finish this final step and your pork ribs are ready to serve.

    When you’ve finished the previous step, carefully transfer ribs from the smoker and remove ribs from the foil. Use your favorite sauce and generously coat it evenly on the ribs.

    Although the food itself has amazing flavor, ribs with sauce will be much tastier. In case you want to eat with no sauce, go ahead. Ribs with no sauce are great for those on a diet.

    Next, place the pork on the smoker once again for 1 last hour. That’s it; you’ve done it!

    We want to give you some extra tips to get a crunchy BBQ sauce bark at this stage. When you almost finish smoking the ribs, unwrap the foil and coat the food with a thin layer of sauce. Let it continue to smoke for a few minutes. When it is nearly firm, add another layer of sauce then repeat the process for an additional 15 minutes.

    Finally, you know what to do already – serve the food and enjoy it!

    Common Mistakes While Smoking Ribs

    If you are a beginner, it is only natural that you might have made some mistakes along the way. The thing is, only one single mistake is enough to lead to a failure of cooking. Having taken that into consideration, we’ve prepared a list of possible issues and solutions.

    #1 You Smoke The Ribs Bone Side Up

    We mentioned this a few times previously, but some people might forget and unknowingly smoke the ribs bone side up. In this case, the juice will pool in the rib bone’s concave center, blocking the smoke. It is the culprit that makes pork ribs dry.

    Therefore, you should always remember to place them side down.

    #2 You Leave The Membrane On

    As explained above, removing the membrane is necessary to get fall-off-the-bone meat. Since the pork skin is very tough, it may prevent the smoke from penetrating. Consequently, the ribs will become undercooked. Even if they get cooked evenly, the meat won’t be as tender.

    For this reason, we highly recommend you get rid of the skin before smoking. You can do it by yourself by following our useful guidance above.  

    #3 You Choose The Wrong Type Of Wood Chips

    We have listed wood chips that create light smoke above. You can choose other types as well, but keep in mind that those producing strong, heavy smoke are not advisable.

    If the smoke is too heavy, the pork meat will lose its original slightly sweet taste. You sure don’t want to eat meat with too much smoky flavor.

    That said, here are some wood chips to avoid: elm, cypress, fir, spruce, sycamore, or eucalyptus.

    Recommended Recipes That Go Well With Smoked Ribs

    That is the ultimate guide to the smoked ribs recipe. If you eat the meat only, it might be a little unappetizing. With that in mind, here are some easy recipes that go well with smoked ribs. Whether you are a novice or a professional chef, you can learn and make it with tremendous ease.

    #1 BLT Pasta Salad

    BLT Pasta Salad

    BLT Pasta Salad

    The first recipe we want to introduce to you is BLT pasta salad. Undoubtedly, salad is the perfect dish to go with smoked meat, even for those on a diet.
    Prep Time 15 mins
    Cook Time 5 mins
    Total Time 20 mins
    Course Salad
    Cuisine Italian
    Servings 8 cups
    Calories 0.2 kcal
    • 12 Ounces Pasta
    • 1/2 Cup Tomatoes Slice
    • 1 Cup Romaine lettuce
    • Black Pepper
    • 1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
    • 3/4 Cup Dijon mustard
    • Cider vinegar
    • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
    • Firstly, boil pasta in salted water for 10 minutes until al dente. Then, drain well and let it chill in cool water.
    • Whisk the mustard and vinegar together with mayonnaise and other spices. Then season it with salt and pepper.
    • Finally, stir pasta with 3 chopped tomatoes and 1 head of romaine. Don’t forget to season it with some salt, pepper and toss it well. Now it is ready to serve with smoked ribs!
    Nutrition of this dish:
    • Protein
    • Saturated fat
    • Trans fat
    • Cholesterol
    • Sodium
    • Potassium
    • Carbohydrate
    • Calories
    Keyword salad, smoked rib

    #2 Oil And Vinegar Coleslaw

    Oil And Vinegar Coleslaw

    Oil And Vinegar Coleslaw

    Oil and vinegar coleslaw can also pair well with smoked ribs. Not only that, this dish is very good for your health thanks to cabbage as its main ingredient.
    Prep Time 5 mins
    Cook Time 15 mins
    Total Time 20 mins
    Course Side Dish
    Cuisine American
    Servings 12 Cups
    Calories 0.11 kcal
    • Green cabbage
    • 1/2 Minced carrot
    • 1/2 Minced onion
    • 1/4 Cup Apple cider vinegar
    • 3/4 Cup olive oil
    • Honey
    • 1/2 Cup Dijon mustard
    • Celery seed
    • Salt
    • 1/4 tbsp Pepper
    • Add 1 head of shredded green cabbage, 1 grated carrot, and ½ sliced onion to one bowl.
    • Create the dressing with ⅓ cup of apple cider vinegar, ½ tablespoon of Dijon mustard, honey, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of celery seed, ¼ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Whisk them together, then add 1 teaspoon of honey
    • Add half of the dressing portion to the vegetable mixture above, then toss well. Repeat the process all over again, and then you can enjoy it with your smoked meat.
    Nutrition of this dish:
    • Saturated fat
    • Sodium
    • Potassium
    • Carbohydrate
    • Calories
    Keyword smoked rib

    #3 Classic Potato Salad

    Classic Potato Salad

    Classic Potato Salad

    You can use classic potato salad as a side dish to eat with smoked ribs. The unique taste of potato combines very well with the sweet taste of meat.
    Prep Time 15 mins
    Cook Time 10 mins
    Total Time 25 mins
    Course Salad
    Cuisine American
    Servings 7 Cups
    • 1/2 pounds potatoes
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/4 cup celery
    • 1/2 cup minced shallot
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
    • tarragon
    • 1/4 teaspoons salt
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
    • 1/4 teaspoons black pepper
    • First off, wash and cut potatoes in bite-sized chunks. Then, cook them in a saucepan with some water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Let the potatoes boil until it becomes tender enough to pierce through with a fork. Drain them well and transfer to a bowl.
    • Add ½ cup of mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, then mix well with potatoes.
    • Hard-boil 3 eggs and dice them, then add 2 stalks of chopped celery, 1 minced shallot, and other herbs of your choice. Season the mixture with some salt and pepper, according to your taste. Now you can serve this dish warm with smoked ribs!
    Nutrition of this dish: 
    • Saturated fat
    • Cholesterol
    • Sodium
    • Carbohydrate
    • Dietary fiber
    Keyword salad, smoked rib


    Now that you’ve learned the smoked ribs recipe – the 3-2-1 ribs method in this article. We also included the three most common mistakes as well as corresponding solutions. All you need to do is to follow our guideline closely, and you will get delicious, finger-licking smoked ribs at hand!

    Besides, our three recommended side dish recipes are super easy to make. So, what are you waiting for? Go straight to the kitchen and try them out! Also, if you have other favorite recipes, feel free to share them with us! It would be really great to learn more about rib recipes.

    For further information about this article, don’t hesitate to contact us! We always welcome possible questions and answer them to the best of our knowledge.

    Roger Lee
    Roger Lee

    Thanks for visiting my website. My name is Roger Lee, and I am a 30-year-old man with a hybrid blood of Chinese and Russian. I decided to set up this site to share with everyone my love and passion for open-air cuisine. It all started when my parents opened a restaurant and I had the chance of getting exposed to the art of outdoor cooking.
    This website aims at sharing about my hobby, recipes, and tips for cooking to everyone. Try them out and tell me about your experience.